Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘Africa’

Elephant Families In Mourning

Dear Gabriel,

elephants-with-babyI’ve just learned that 86 elephants — 33 of them pregnant females — have been gunned down by poachers in the Central African country of Chad.

The image above is from a similar slaughter last year. The ivory tusks have been hacked out and stolen. The ivory will be sold on the black market, and then eventually carved into products nobody needs.

Entire elephant families – even the pregnant mothers – brutally killed…to make ivory trinkets?

It’s heartbreaking and senseless…and it HAS TO STOP.

You can help protect elephants and all animals by making an emergency anti-cruelty donation today.

I know you believe as I do – that an elephant’s life is worth more than a silly trinket.

Elephants are incredibly social – they gather in extended families, the moms and aunts and cousins all live together. And they’re so much like us in other ways. They’re known to play and cry and even mourn their own dead.

They don’t deserve to die for the sake of an ivory ornament. Please help us stop this cruelty today.

The poaching of elephants for ivory is a global problem. And with offices, partner organizations, and supporters in so many countries, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is working around the world to save elephants.

Here’s how you can help too:

IFAW has trained hundreds of rangers and more than 1,600 wildlife law enforcement officials around the world to protect elephants and all animals. You can provide the rangers with anti-poaching training as well as essential equipment like radios, backpacks, boots and uniforms.

Significant quantities of smuggled ivory tusks have been intercepted by borders and customs officials trained by IFAW. The ivory trade is a chain of cruelty leading from a dead elephant all the way to a shelf in a gift shop. You can help us stop ivory smugglers and break that chain of cruelty.

China is the eventual destination for much of the poached ivory. Many consumers don’t realize that the vast majority of ivory products come from murdered elephants. You can help educate consumers in China and other countries and help shut down the markets for ivory.

The cruel ivory trade threatens to wipe out many populations of elephants – and this massacre of pregnant mothers shows that poachers will stop at nothing to get their hands on ivory.

Although today is a terribly sad day for elephants, I hope you’ll join me in using this day’s tragic news as motivation to fight even harder to protect elephants.

We CAN win this fight. But we need you.

Please make an emergency anti-cruelty donation today to help IFAW protect elephants and all animals.

Thanks for your help,

Jason Bell
IFAW Programme Director, Elephants

P.S. Some regions of Africa face total annihilation of their elephants. If we don’t stop the poachers, who will? Please make an emergency anti-cruelty donation today.

For the Greater Good

Happy New Year!

G4_Thankyou2012_220x375There is perhaps nothing more satisfying — nor more motivating — than a celebration of good deeds accomplished in the name of charity. As we look back on 2012, we’re proud and grateful for all that we’ve accomplished together with you, our tireless supporters.

This past year, the largest hunger relief grants went to Feeding America to help hungry Americans in need of food bank assistance in all 50 states. Grants also went to Mercy Corps’ many hunger relief programs worldwide and Millennium Promise for their groundbreaking work in Africa.

In the spring and early fall, in response to tornadoes in the Midwest and hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, GreaterGood.org contributed to numerous local charities in the United States. And when Superstorm Sandy struck the East Coast, GreaterGood.org grants supported the emergency assistance and clean up efforts provided by Team Rubicon and the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.

Your commitment to children’s health and education was reflected in GreaterGood.org grants to Partners in Health, which focused on fighting cholera in Haiti, as well as providing vitamin A supplements and oral rehydration. Funding also supported pre-natal programs and midwifery services in Africa, Nepal, and Tibet, reducing infant mortality rates. Additional grants helped Splash’s (formerly A Child’s Right) efforts to provide clean water to schools and hospitals, HALO Trust’s work to assist in landmine removal, and Prosthetics Outreach Foundation’s surgical aid to children born with clubfoot.

Our longstanding support of vital literacy programs worldwide continued through our charity partners First Book and Room to Read. Contributions to the Nepal Youth Foundation, Community Partners International, Razia’s Ray of Hope, and Zabuli Education Center for girls in Deh’Sub helped provide girls with a valuable education. In many cases, contributions also saved children from a life of indentured servitude. Further grants also provided secondary education for young women in Africa, India, and Central Asia through nonprofits, such as Eliminate Poverty Now, CAMFED, Darfur Peace and Development Organization, and others.

Efforts to preserve or improve the health of our planet were strong in 2012. We are pleased to report that last year several of our charitable partners successfully completed projects to save endangered wildlife habitat.

With final land acquisition by the World Land Trust-US, the 6,000-acre Sierra Caral Amphibian Reserve will protect some of Guatemala’s most endangered wildlife. In Africa, the new Laikipia National Park, created by the African Wildlife Foundation and Nature Conservancy, will give wide ranging animals like elephants, lions, and zebras the ability to move safely through open habitat that is not bisected by roads, fences, or other forms of development. More than 17,100 acres of previously privately held land were protected.

Also in 2012, additional grants funded wildlife rescue and preservation programs for big cats and marine mammals, as well as sanctuaries for threatened species like the Sumatran orangutan. Along with World Land Trust-US, GreaterGood.org ended the year with a concerted effort to save an additional 332 acres in the Serra Bonita rainforest of Brazil.

Support of these programs and other humanitarian efforts at The Hunger Site, The Child Health Site, The Literacy Site and The Rainforest Site totaled over $640,000 in 2012! These funds were raised thanks to the direct actions of supporters like you via our click-to-give websites, purchases and promotions at GreaterGood Network stores, and donations through the Gifts That Give More™ program or directly to GreaterGood.org.

When you add in all the good that was achieved in 2012, GreaterGood Network and GreaterGood.org has given nearly $30 million to charity since 1999 — proof that your efforts do make a difference. Let’s use these donation figures as inspiration and motivation to make 2013 our best year ever!

Best Wishes & Continued Gratitude,

Tim Kunin
CEO, GreaterGood Network
Greg Hesterberg,
President, GreaterGood Network
Liz Baker
Director, GreaterGood.org

Maasai Getting the Boot

Dear Friends,

At any moment, a big-game hunting corporation could sign a deal which would force up to 48,000 members of Africa’s famous Maasai tribe from their land to make way for wealthy Middle Eastern kings and princes to hunt lions and leopards. Experts say the Tanzanian President’s approval of the deal may be imminent, but if we act now, we can stop this sell-off of the Serengeti.

The last time this same corporation pushed the Maasai off their land to make way for rich hunters, people were beaten by the police, their homes were burnt to a cinder and their livestock died of starvation. But when a press controversy followed, Tanzanian President Kikwete reversed course and returned the Maasai to their land. This time, there hasn’t been a big press controversy yet, but we can change that and force Kikwete to stop the deal if we join our voices now.

If 150,000 of us sign, media outlets in Tanzania and around the world will be blitzed so President Kikwete gets the message to rethink this deadly deal. Sign the petition now and send to everyone:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_the_maasai/?bMPbqab&v=17086

The Maasai are semi-nomadic herders who have lived in Tanzania and Kenya for centuries, playing a critical role in preserving the delicate ecosystem. But to royal families from the United Arab Emirates, they’re an obstacle to luxurious animal shooting sprees. A deal to evict the Maasai to make way for rich foreign hunters is as bad for wildlife as it is for the communities it would destroy. While President Kikwete is talking to favoured local elites to sell them on the deal as good for development, the vast majority of people just want to keep the land that they know the President can take by decree.

President Kikwete knows that this deal would be controversial with Tanzania’s tourists — a critical source of national income — and is therefore trying to keep it from the public eye. In 2009, a similar royal landgrab in the area executed by the same corporation that is swooping in this time generated global media coverage that helped to roll it back. If we can generate the same level of attention, we know the pressure can work.

A petition signed by thousands can force all the major global media bureaus in East Africa and Tanzania to blow up this controversial deal. Sign now to call on Kikwete to kill the deal:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_the_maasai/?bMPbqab&v=17086

Representatives from the Maasai community today urgently appealed to Avaaz to raise the global alarm call and save their land. Time and again, the incredible response from this amazing community turns seemingly lost causes into legacies that last a lifetime. Lets protect the Maasai and save the animals for tourists that want to shoot them with camera lenses, rather than lethal weapons!

With hope and determination,

Sam, Meredith, Luis, Aldine, Diego, Ricken and the rest of the Avaaz team

Read React and Act

Dear Gabriel

A girl sick with hunger. A mother too poor to send her children to school. A farmer with weak, dying crops.

When the need is greatest, that’s when CARE steps in. The immediate and long-term solutions we provide and the lives we transform are possible through something immensely powerful: the generosity of our donors.

And now as a ferocious hunger crisis grips the Sahel region of Africa, and communities around the world are still in desperate need of help, a new matching gift fund has become available. Every dollar you give through August 22 will immediately be doubled, up to the match limit of $150,000.

There’s no secret formula to lifting people out of poverty: just the compassion and help of people like you. Please make your tax-deductible gift now and it will be matched.

I know that together, we can make extraordinary things happen. Last year, CARE reached more than 122 million people in 84 countries. There’s no way we would have been able to help individuals and families in the world’s poorest communities without the compassion of CARE’s donors.

But we don’t have time to celebrate our success – not when so many are struggling through the daily grind of poverty, trying to feed themselves and their children on less than a dollar per day.

Many of these people think they have no way out. But after over 60 years working in developing countries, we know how to help communities rise out of poverty. We help treat children suffering from malnutrition, support women running small businesses, and teach farmers how to get more milk from their cows or better harvests from their fields. We know that by investing in girls and women, we’re strengthening entire communities.

You make it possible for people in desperate circumstances to improve their lives. Please give by August 22 – help us reach our goal of $300,000, and your gift will go TWICE as far, up to the $150,000 match limit.

Thank you so much for all of your help. With so many millions of people suffering from the food crisis right now in the Sahel and so much continued need for long term poverty solutions around the world, your help is especially crucial this summer.

Sincerely,

Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH
President and CEO, CARE

1 Million Children

Dear Friends,

My name is Baaba Maal, and I’m a Senegalese musician writing with a personal plea for help. I live in Africa’s drought-struck Sahel region where 18 million people are on the brink of disaster, including 1 million children at risk of starvation. But our urgent appeals for help are being met with deafening silence. Only a targeted and overwhelming demand for action can stop this catastrophe from turning deadly.

The UN says millions of lives could be destroyed unless $1.5 billion in aid is channeled in immediately, but governments have pledged less than half the required sum. The countries who can make all the difference are the US, Japan, France and Germany, but they’re stalling — that’s why I started a petition on Avaaz’s Community Petitions website to appeal to the world for help.

In days, world leaders will gather in Brussels to discuss the Sahel — if they decide right there and then to pledge their fair share, we can avert disaster. Sign this urgent petition now — Avaaz, Africans Act 4 Africa, and Oxfam will deliver it in a coordinated stunt when we reach 1 million signatures:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/The_grain_sacks_are_empty/?bMPbqab&v=15205

Terrible drought, political unrest, and sky high food prices have wreaked havoc on an area the size of the US, stretching from Senegal in the west all the way to Sudan in the east. People here are doing everything they can to survive, but the crisis has hit so hard that it’s difficult to stay hopeful. I’ve seen women and children trying to grow food in patches of land that are bone dry. They know that people are talking about what is happening in the Sahel, but they don’t know if aid will ever arrive.

The UN has only received 43 percent of the $1.5 billion needed — it’s a shortfall of gargantuan proportions. But this gap must be filled, and can be filled by the world’s richest countries, if there’s political will. We don’t have much time to avert mass suffering, and I’m determined to speak on behalf of the people here until they get the help they need.

The world has turned a blind eye to crises like this before, but this time we can make the difference between life and death by forcing our governments to respond. Sign this urgent petition now:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/The_grain_sacks_are_empty/?bMPbqab&v=15205

Avaaz members have come together time and time again to respond to natural disasters, saving thousands of lives by ensuring that crucial aid was delivered to Burma, Haiti, Somalia and Pakistan. We have the power to force our leaders to stop idling away in the face of a crisis we can prevent. Let’s stand together now to demand that the world respond to the pleas of the millions living in the vast Sahel region.

With hope and determination,

Baaba Maal, with the Avaaz team

Empowering Rwanda’s Children

I was on the board of The Ihangane Project and continue to support their work. This is a wonderful article.

From The Huffington Post
by Suzanne Skees
15 April 2012

Rwanda Now: Healing the Grandchildren of the Genocide

Julienne was just four during the 1994 genocide. She is HIV-positive and works as an artisan for this member-owned women’s collective through The Ihangane Project. Ihangane brought solar lighting to the health clinic where she gave birth safely without transmitting the virus to her 4-month-old son, Kingi; they also provide nutrition supplements for Kingi and gardening and nutrition training for Julienne.

Ruli: Rwanda: Far up in the hills of central Africa in a village called Ruli, families live as do 90% of Rwandans, working the land. To get to Ruli, you have to go off the map, over 2.5 hours of bumpy roads, winding your way northwest of Kigali; and you have to be willing to leap backward in time. Here, people live mired in the past, swinging hoes and hoisting water, centuries behind in infrastructure, yet also suffering the aftereffects of a more recent past — the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Already challenged by poverty, this land-locked country with a legacy of colonizer-instilled tribal conflict experienced decades of violence that culminated in a gruesome genocide of nearly 1 million Tutsis and Hutus. Another 2 million fled to hellish refugee camps in neighboring countries. Houses burned, livestock died, fields languished, and the economy nosedived. It took years to discern whom to prosecute and forgive, who owned what, and how to live together again. Women were widowed, children orphaned, and an already-high prevalence of HIV skyrocketed among women survivors of rape.

2012-04-12-WendyIhangane.jpg

Dr. Wendy Leonard practices family medicine and HIV/AIDS/TB care in California and Rwanda.

U.S. physician Dr. Wendy Leonard decided to take action. She boarded a flight in 2006 as the first physician volunteer for the Clinton Foundation’s HIV clinical mentoring program in Rwanda. They sent her to a remote village called Ruli, and told her to oversee government health initiatives. She found, instead, that she had a lot of listening — and learning — to do.

“It’s really about understanding who it is you’re trying to help,” Wendy says. “Every time I’m in Rwanda, I learn more about the people and the culture.”

The first week on the job, Wendy’s mentor, Dr. Jean de Dieu Ngirabega, told her, “If you want to help our community, you must first get to know us.” He took her to a local wedding, a Catholic/traditional ceremony that carried on all day. Hundreds of guests sat patiently in searing heat on wobbly wooden benches, trading stories and gossip, watching a never-ending procession of neighbors bearing gifts in agaseke, hand-woven lidded baskets borne atop women’s heads filled with rice, beans, seeds — anything the new couple may need to start their life together. The father of the bride presented them with a cow. Wendy knew the hosts were among the poorest of Africa’s poor, and all her theories about charity evaporated in the stifling air as she watched them feed every single person who showed up.

“Everyone gets a Fanta, and everyone gets fed — even if only corn on the cob,” she marvels. “No matter how poor you might be, everyone provides for each other.” She saw this practice again at the clinical level. For example, surveys revealed that 200 community health volunteers wished for increased nutrition training — not salaries. “It makes sense to try and raise funds to pay even a small stipend,” Wendy reflects now, “but just by asking, we discovered that was not their motivation at all.”

Then, the doctor from America flipped the model — from top-down development to community-based grassroots–and launched The Ihangane Project in 2008. The name means being patient; its mission is to improve healthcare and economic development. Ihangane is “just facilitating what Rwandans are already doing,” Wendy explains. “All our projects are initiated by Rwandans. We always ask, What can we do to strengthen their capacity?”

45-year-old Dr. Avite runs the 168-bed Ruli District Hospital, where he sees patients for accidents on motorbikes and in “unofficial local mines”; cardiovascular and cirrhosis problems. Throughout Rwanda, the population suffers a high rate of alcoholism and PTSD, anxiety, and depressive disorders: Part of the legacy of the genocide. Dr. Avite and his wife have three adopted teenage children.

Ihangane provides technical and financial support for community-created models:

artisan sales by microenterprise collective
cross-sector collaborations
solar power initiative
maternal and infant care
rural hospital improvements
local healthcare linkages
nutrition, gardening, and pig-farming projects

Ihangane aims for self-sustaining solutions that soon will graduate from donor inputs. “For example,” explains Wendy, “for HIV-exposed infants in Ruli at high risk for malnutrition, we provide sosoma, a porridge of soya, sorghum, and maize fortified with vitamins and minerals. This supports one of the many truly beautiful protocols from the government [Ministry of Health]; but the funding is not there. So, we are building farming collectives to grow component grains. We’ll grow locally and sell to Ruli hospital at a much more affordable cost. The farmers also can sell their surplus crops for an additional profit.”

The day we visit, rain falls softly at the top of one of Rwanda’s “thousand hills,” and the red soil looks rich. However, this land has been stripped by one-crop farming and poisoned by toxic pesticides. Many farming families have been reduced to a diet of rice and maize. Banana trees carpet the hills, yet only a few still produce fruit — often used to make beer. Now, Ruli residents have asked for diversified garden inputs and training on how to grow high-yield crops and cook nutritious meals.

The main hospital has electricity; however, several of the eight outlying health centers previously had no power. Women who went into labor at night had to give birth in the dark. “Now we have solar lighting in eight health centers,” Isaac, an Ihangane volunteer and lab technician, tells us. “We can light the maternity ward 24 hours a day, power a microscope and a radio phone used to call for an ambulance if needed.” Partnering with Catapult Design, “the Ihangane solar project is just on time,” Isaac smiles.

Gratien, another intern, bicycles from his father’s nearby farm to help the Ruli Women’s Cooperative launch a pig farming enterprise in nearby Nyange. Livestock farming will diversify their income and allow them to increase their membership. “Pigs are simple,” Gratien laughs. “They are not complicated. They need only a small pen. They eat slop.” Ihangane will raise funds for initial building and livestock materials, and then Ruli will take it from there.

A few of the thirty artisans of the Ihangane Women’s Association. Each member pays $25 to join. They put 10 percent of profits into savings, create group loans for one another, and divide the remaining 90 percent among members. Founding president Madeleine (far right) taught the members to dry sisal fibers, dye them, and weave into traditional wedding baskets. They also produce cards, pictures, and jewelry.

“Sometimes when we want so badly to help, we just come in and try to help,” Wendy muses. “If we come in to learn who they are first, sometimes we find amazingly rich resources already in the community.” For the artisans, Ihangane provided startup materials, and will provide follow-up training through local fair-trade expert from Rwanda Economic Development Initiative (REDI).

Read complete article and see video at The Huffington Post.

Starvation in Sahel Region

Dear Gabriel,

Every minute of every day, 17 children die from hunger and preventable diseases. It’s a tragedy you can help stop. Your gift to CARE can support programs to fight extreme poverty, prevent hunger and disease, and respond to emergencies all over the world.

Today, in the Sahel region of Africa, a food crisis has pushed 13 million people to the brink of hunger, and more than 1 million children in the Sahel now face severe malnutrition.

It’s heartbreaking to see refugee children like this boy from Mali sleeping in the open. His family fled one emergency only to face another. Now, the boy is at the mercy of Niger’s ongoing and worsening food crisis.

Help is desperately needed. Can we count on you to invest in CARE’s 2012 World Hunger Campaign and help us raise $1.6 million in the next 60 days so that we can save and change lives around the world, including those in Niger?

The countries most affected by the food crisis in the Sahel are Niger, Chad and Mali, where irregular rains and swarms of locusts and pests destroyed entire harvests. Most families in Niger, especially those living along the border with Mali, are running out of food. Refugees are resorting to sleeping in the open, without access to basic services. Many are forced to drink muddy water — putting them at risk of waterborne disease.

CARE is ramping up efforts to provide clean water, food, emergency shelter and sanitation items to these refugees. Food is running out fast and lives hang in the balance.

You can help turn things around through our World Hunger Campaign. We’re aiming to raise $1.6 million in the next 60 days to fight poverty and save lives around the world. Please give $60, $125 or whatever you can afford today.

On behalf of the men, women and children we serve, thank you for responding as generously and as quickly as you can.

Sincerely,

Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH
President and CEO, CARE

Women’s Day in Rwanda

From ROP Stories

ROP Celebrates International Women’s Day
by Sean Jones
13 March, 2012

To be honest I don’t recall having ever heard of International Women’s Day before I came to Rwanda. I don’t know if that’s because I’ve just been oblivious all these years or if it’s because it’s just not a major holiday in the States. My guess is the latter, but only because America is a country where women for the most part have the equality and respect they deserve. In Rwanda, however, as in so many other developing countries around the world, women are still treated as second class citizens, sometimes by law, sometimes by their society, but usually by both.

The Rwandan government is quite progressive when it comes to women’s rights as far as African countries go. Famously the Rwandan Parliament has the highest ratio of women to men in the entire world, Western nations included. There are numerous laws on the books giving females equal rights to education, employment and even land ownership. As a Westerner it’s easy to be unimpressed, but in most of Africa girls are still not guaranteed access to school and land and property inheritance for women is almost unheard of. Imagine being a wife and mother in Africa and your husband dies. If you have no sons everything your family owns get passed to the nearest male relative. It could be his brother or distant cousin you don’t even know. Whoever he ended up being he wouldn’t have to (and most likely would not) share any of it with you and you would have no legal recourse. This is how it is in many regions of Africa and it used to be this way in Rwanda as well until relatively recently.

Anyway, back to Women’s Day. It sort of sneaked up on us but we decided to have a little celebration after school had finished. As many of you know we do not have any girls living with us at the ROP but we do allow about 30 girls from local poor families to attend our school free of charge. When we first opened our school to these young ladies we had some issues early on with our boys, and outside boys, giving them a hard time. But through several workshops and group chats conducted by our social workers on gender equality and respect for women we have been able to change our boys’ attitudes towards girls and bring most of the problems to an end.

After school everyone made their way into our dining hall – the girls on one side and the boys on the other. It seemed a little strange at first and I considered having them mix together, but in the end it worked out better because we could address the boys as a group and then the girls as a group. Sandrine, our head teacher, spoke to the children first, followed by Elisabeth, our head social worker. Then Jenny spoke to the children, explaining that a man is not more valuable simply by virtue of being male; that we all have strengths and weaknesses and that we should respect each other based on our skills, talents and accomplishments rather than on our sex. My turn came next and I asked our boys to consider a world without women and all the beauty, love and sensibility they bring to the world. I added that a world composed only of men would not be a very pleasant place and probably wouldn’t last very long.

After the speeches we had a short Q&A session with the children and then we wrapped up ceremony. I wasn’t really sure what our boys would take from our words but I think now that they did have an impact. Although Rwanda has many laws proclaiming the equality of women, the fact is that gender bias remains strong in Rwandan society, particularly in the country’s poor rural areas, where most of our children have come from. As I told the children on Women’s Day, it’s most likely too late to change the attitudes of adults in the country, but change comes from the youth, and they all – both boys and girls – have an opportunity to be vehicles for change in Rwanda, and perhaps Africa as a whole.

See more photos at ROP Stories.

Hunger Is Not A Game

Dear Gabriel,

Hunger is on the horizon for more than 13 million people in the Sahel region of Africa – with fields bone dry and crops ravaged by plagues of insects. Food prices are rising quickly in local markets.

In parts of Chad, villagers have resorted to raiding anthills for the tiny caches of food stored there.

This crisis isn’t just the result of dry weather or failed harvests. In some cases, up to half of US government aid that could help these struggling communities is wasted. It supports giant agribusiness firms and shipping companies. It’s shipped expensively from the US, instead of being purchased locally. It’s dumped on markets – competing directly with the small farmers it should be helping.

Farmers in the Sahel region can assist more effectively during food crises – but they urgently need your help to do it.

Make a gift to the Oxfam America Advocacy Fund, and you can help people in the Sahel and beyond by pushing for reforms that allow for food aid to be purchased locally. You’ll help fix the underlying causes of this crisis – and if you give today, your donation will be matched to make TWICE the difference.

Make your gift today toward our $50,000 goal and it will be doubled to help change the laws and policies that keep people poor.

Oxfam is working in places like Niger, where our partners are rebuilding cereal banks so any surplus food can be stored for the months ahead. We’re in Mauritania, where we’re working with 1,300 women to launch a cooperative vegetable garden program, with water pumped from a nearby river. And we’re in Chad, helping farmers dig irrigation systems that will capture any rain that falls.

But we need your help to tackle the destructive policies that can turn a dry season like this into a catastrophe. Every day, we see the heart-wrenching impact of these misguided policies that lead to manipulated food prices that maximize corporate profits, or fall short on providing basic investments that could help communities prepare for disasters. Too many policies are made without consideration for how they could affect poor people.

The Oxfam America Advocacy Fund is working to turn this around, making sure aid gets to where it’s needed and is used to build long-term self-reliance. In order to continue this work, we need your support today.

Help raise $50,000 to reform aid policies – give today and your gift will be MATCHED.

We have the experience and the expertise to make systemic change – but we need your immediate support to make it possible. Thanks in advance for working toward a better future for families in West Africa and beyond.

Sincerely,

Raymond C. Offenheiser
Board of Directors
Oxfam America Advocacy Fund

Three Weeks In December

Three Weeks In December by Audrey Schulman
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans
New York Journal of Books
January 31, 2012

Like the plants, people, seasons, and animal life of Africa, Three Weeks in December will stay embedded in your memory for many years to come. Once you’ve touched ground with the antagonists, there is a feeling of intimacy and knowing that rarely occurs in a novel. This vibrant creation is actually two novellas wrapped in to one volume, with the stories alternating between Jeremy in 1899 in East Africa and Max in Rwanda in the year 2000.

The contrasts between the characters are extreme—yet there is also a similarity between them. Jeremy is hired as an engineer to help build a railroad through what is now known as Tanzania, in British controlled territory, while Max is engaged as a botanist by a pharmaceutical company to find a rare plant (for commercial purposes) in the gorillas’ sanctuary of the Virunga National Park.

Jeremy is a white man who is part of “progress” and “modernization,” while also hunting and being hunted by people-eating lions. Max is a black woman who arrives in Rwanda seeking to learn, observe, discover and appreciate the people, gorillas and life she finds. Both are completely out of their element.

Jeremy and Max were alienated and ostracized in America. Jeremy, because of his sexual preference and Max because of her Asperger’s (autism). Whereas, Jeremy’s family and community shamed and ostracized his very existence, Max’s mother fought for her tooth and nail throughout her life. Her mother’s determination is described as, “She was worn down as a rock pulled from the sea. All weaknesses battered away.”

In many respects, Max’s behavior and the description of her reactions, thoughts, and feelings as an “Aspie” closely resemble the real life professor, Temple Grandin, whose life has been popularized in book and film. A superb line offers a glimpse into how one woman with Asperger’s lives within: “The loneliness of her skin.”

Once in Africa, Max and Jeremy’s social anxiety and fears are confronted with torrential monsoons of choices in their individual environments and cultural situations. In order to literally survive, they must take chances, step outside themselves and trust others—a difficult task in the best of times, let alone in the worst.

Their past realities and moral compasses are continually questioned. At one point, Max is thinking, “She marveled once again at how chameleon was the human mind—capable of shucking off a lifetime of values fast as a dirty shirt—able to angle the facts toward whatever it found convenient.”

Read complete review at New York Journal of Books.

Tag Cloud